Mem Fox (text) and Freya Blackwood (illustrator), The Tiny Star, Penguin Books Australia, 32 pp., October 2019, RRP $24.99, (hbk), ISBN 9780670078127
As miraculous as a baby finding its way to this earth is the phenomenally impressive duo in Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood – legends in their own right – with the creation of a book so suitably deserving to be treasured, and loved, forever in our hearts.
Unbelievably, this is the first collaboration of Fox and Blackwood! The level of unity between words and pictures feels like a working connection that has been mastered over many years. Fox’s lyrical prose is tender and moving, with considered language that emotes both joy and grief in the most comforting manner. Blackwood’s exquisite frameable art of soft blues, greys and tonal whites magnify the depth of emotion and meaning of respect, admiration, dignity, and pure adoration. Together, text and illustrations exemplify the ‘stars’ of this book, and across children’s literature.
A baby falls to earth and is immediately wrapped in a quilt covered in stars and doted upon by the community. Through moments of play, through acts of kindness, spreading hopes and dreams, it gets older and older, and is absolutely and completely loved and cared for. However, as the years pass, the star grows smaller until it disappears altogether. Whilst the family mourn in sadness and disbelief, the tiny star shines from the heavens once more where it remains, to rest.
The symbolism of ‘it’ – the tiny star, but also the girl growing old – what seems to once be insignificant amongst the billions, in fact travels more of a journey than the simple cycle of life. This ‘insignificant’ tiny thing proves that, with care, love, warmth, and across time, it grows into the most significant figure its extended community of family and friends could ever have known. And once passed, the cycle does not merely begin again, but at its end is the brightest, most memorable star transcending from the night sky. Here is a stunning book that gives hope, and peace, to its readers. It dignifies loss with a mixture of emotions, and resembles death as meaning new life, wherever that may be in the universe.
Highly recommended for sharing across the generations. The Tiny Star is a valuable, uplifting and poignant story for the young to make sense of, and find comfort in, heartbreaking loss.
Reviewed by Romi Sharp
Read Romi’s Q&A with Mem and Freya here